Dear Members of the University Community:
It is with great sadness that I write today to inform you of the passing of Rouzbeh Rastgarkafshgarkolaei, who died Sunday as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Rouzbeh was a Ph.D. student studying Mechanical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Originally from Iran, Rouzbeh came to UVA from Auburn University in the fall of 2014. He once noted that “entering the United States, a whole different place to live, was one of my greatest life experiences so far.” Working in the laboratory of Executive Dean and Professor Pamela Norris, his research involved advanced molecular modeling and simulations to investigate thermal management in electronics and thermo-electronics. Rouzbeh had already published four papers in top-tier journals, working with several other students, graduates, and faculty members from across the engineering school, and he was known as a wonderful collaborator. He was in the final stages of completing his dissertation, with plans to defend at the end of this semester. He was also a conscientious and well-liked teaching assistant and had just been awarded the 2018 Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Distinguished Fellowship.
In a February 2017 “Who’s Hoo” interview published on the International Student & Scholar Programs Facebook page, Rouzbeh said he came to UVA “for a new experience, a lifetime opportunity that could open up my eyes to other aspects of life.” He believed studying at UVA presented “a unique and prestigious opportunity you cannot get from many other schools around the globe” with “a very intellectual and fresh atmosphere within this community.”
Rouzbeh volunteered on the International Student & Scholar Programs Advisory Board in the International Studies Office, established in 2016 to assist in developing programs and activities specifically designed to support the needs and interests of international students. According to Adrienne Kim Bird in ISO, Rouzbeh “wanted to make a difference here for his fellow international students and didn’t hesitate to roll up his sleeves to help.”
He also worked to establish the Iranian Students Association at UVA, and said in 2017 “that by the end of my time at UVA, this will have been one of the greatest things that I have achieved” as a student. According to Mehrdad Fazli, the current president of the IRSA, Rouzbeh was “the one who established, consolidated and promoted Iranian community which he used to refer to as his child. He had a helping, compassionate, generous and caring personality. He has left his footage in all the good memories we have from UVA and Charlottesville. His passing is a deep grief for all of us and he will be remembered as a welcoming and loving friend among us."
Professor Norris recalls Rouzbeh as “a wonderful student, colleague, and friend,” who was often simply referred to as “the smiling guy.” Students in Rouzbeh’s lab recall “his passion and excitement for everything from science to how your day was going. Not a day went by when he wasn’t wearing his infectious smile. He freely laughed, was always interested in what was happening in your life, and willing to share all about his life. He was a great friend and lab mate and he will be missed.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with Rouzbeh's parents in Iran, Khosro Rastgarkafshgarkolaei and Monir Silakhori; other family members; and his friends and classmates at UVA.
The loss of a classmate and fellow member of our community is difficult. If you need support during this time, you may call Counseling and Psychological Services at 434-243-5150, 24 hours a day. Information about CAPS is available on the Student Health website.
Faculty and staff can find a similar resource through the Faculty and Employee Assistance Program by calling 434-243-2643 or by emailing the office via the FEAP website.
Please take care of yourselves and keep Rouzbeh's family and friends in your thoughts.
Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students